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A sound was heard in Ramah, sobbing and great mourning. Rachel crying for her children and she would not be comforted because they are no more.a

a[18]
From Jeremiah 31:15.

Quoted from Jeremiah 31:15.

“a sound was heard in Ramah.” Most translations read, “a voice was heard.” However, the Greek word phone (#5456 φωνή) can be used to mean just a sound (e.g., John 3:8; 1 Cor. 14:7; Rev. 8:5; 8:13 [“blasts”]). Though the sound would have been coming from a human voice, it would have been the sound of sobbing.

“sobbing.” Traditionally, this has been translated “weeping.” But we do not feel that “weeping” best captures the sense of the Greek word klauthmos (#2805 κλαυθμός). In English, weeping conjures up pictures of a weak and quiet, teary sadness. Klauthmos is more of a loud crying with obvious physical manifestations: “not merely with tears, but with every outward expression of grief” (Bullinger, Critical Lexicon, p. 862). Hence, we have rendered the word here “sobbing,” which gives a better sense of physical wailing than does the term “weeping;” after all, these mother’s babies had just been murdered. This is the noun form of the verb klaio (#2799 κλαίω) translated as “crying” in this verse.

“Rachael.” The favorite wife of Jacob, here representing Israel.

“crying.” The Greek verb is klaiō (#2799 κλαίω). We have translated it as “crying” rather than “weeping.” Klaiō is the verb form of klauthmos; see commentary on “sobbing” in this verse.


Commentary for: Matthew 2:18